The casserole is a satisfying main course for vegetarians, a low-carb side dish for diabetics, and a tasty side dish for the meat eaters at your Thanksgiving table.
I think we can all agree that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is not designed for vegetarians, low-carb followers, or anyone who likes to eat light meals.
Turkey, gravy, and oyster or sausage stuffing are all off the menu for vegetarians. Low-carb followers eschew mashed potatoes, stuffing of any type, sweet salads, yam casserole covered in marshmallows, and fluffy white rolls. And if you prefer light meals? Forget the green bean casserole, scalloped corn, pecan pie, and almost everything else. Since munching on a green salad is not a viable option at the family Thanksgiving table, what to do?
As a vegetarian, who tries to follow a low-carb diet, and hates heavy food, years ago I changed my menu to what I call, Essence of Thanksgiving. It’s a way to include all the great Thanksgiving flavors like cranberry, squash/pumpkin, apples, and potatoes – but in non-traditional formats.
I might make Cranberry-Persimmon Sauce instead of overly sweet, canned, cranberry sauce. And instead of heavy green bean casserole, I steam fresh, whole beans and sprinkle them with lemon juice and sliced almonds. Turkey and gravy are replaced by a vegetarian entrée, usually something like this bean casserole. It has all the flavors we expect at Thanksgiving; herbs, apples, squash, but is the perfect option for vegetarians and vegans alike. And it’s so flavorful, I guarantee that the meat eaters at your table will love it too.
It can be made a day or two ahead and reheated before serving.
Thanksgiving Bean Recipe
- 2 cups dried Great Northern beans
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large apples cored and chopped
- 1 cup peeled, chopped winter squash or pumpkin
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 small green bell pepper chopped
- 1 small leek or onion chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- A pinch of dried, rubbed sage
- Rinse beans and place them in a large pot with rosemary, and thyme. Cover with water.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
- Drain beans and discard the herbs.
- Return beans to pot. Add honey, apples and squash.
- Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Sauté leek and bell pepper in olive oil until tender. Add to bean mixture.
- Add a pinch of sage and salt and pepper to taste
- Spoon into a 3-quart casserole dish. Add 1 cup of water. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 60 – 90 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.